Rajeev "Raj" Prasad / DJ Raj / SF DJ Raj

Rajeev “Raj” Prasad is a music producer, studio engineer, remixer, and writer who started off making pause-mix tapes off the radio as a kid never realizing that it would lead him into a career. His vibes today continue to reflect the deep rooted musical feelings he absorbed during his childhood in the Fiji Islands where he was born. There he was influenced not only with local sounds but by his dad who was an avid lover of music with a collection of vinyl from all over the world. A typical day was a concoction of Bollywood, Island, Disco, Punjabi Folk songs, Bhajans, Big Band, Qawali, British and American Pop, Country, Reggae and Calypso to name a few. Music was music and that was the only genre in his home.  

At 12yrs old his family migrated to the US landing him smack in the middle of the melting pot of music and culture that is San Francisco. Captured by the new electronic sound that was brewing as the soul and disco era of the 70’s morphed into the 80’s. Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rappers Delight” was a game changer but it was Africa Bhambatta and The Soul Sonic Force’s “Planet Rock” that really got his attention.

By the time he experienced Roger Troutman and Zapp’s version of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”, his mind was blown. He swore it was Electronics Technology that he had to pursue and went in full force through high school and then onto community college. During this time, he began a deejay group with his younger brother which went on to become one of the premiere DJ crews in the SF Bay Area called “Majikus”. In school, he’d build electronic circuits to bend sounds, put effects on vocals, and also created lighting effects which they could use while deejaying. A lot of these circuits would go on to become legitimate businesses by others but his interests lay towards music production.

They were growing up lock in step with the new era of hip hop and dance music. “Majikus” went on to produce their first record called “Boyz In Style”, with “Relationships” on Side B. Both were recorded at Secret Studios with engineers Mark V and DJ EFX which also got them a mention in an early issue of Source Magazine.

DJ EFX became a mentor and introduced Raj to House and Techno music inspiring Raj to start Majikus Studio so he could record local clients working in music full time and producing his own projects in between sessions. EFX later invited him to become an early member of Third Floor Productions which became a west coast production power house serving major labels with bleeding edge underground club remixes with projects that included Sting, Boy George, RuPaul among others.

It was the beginning of the San Francisco Rave scene when Raj released his first techno project as “M to the 3rd Power” on 3rd Floor’s Productions, “TCX” label aka “Technologically Controlled Experiments”. The record “Brainwaves” with B Side “Bhangra Chant” received high praise from the biggest Rave DJ’s in the country and hoped on to global dance charts. M3 began headlining raves around the country with fellow 3rd Floor alum Mark G of “Darwin Chamber”. That project went on to receive an honorable mention in the Techno Music Hall of Fame out of Rotterdam years later.

At the same time, Rajeev was also recording a few international projects including one with his brother, the artist “Kaiindia”, producing and releasing an Indo-Fijian EP called, “Straight From The Koro”, from which songs like “Go Kaiindia” and “Give Me Cava” went on to become dance floor staples in the Indo-Fijian community worldwide. Later they teamed up to record his album, “What Is Taki?” which included the hits, “Nehi Daddy” and “Nuchna Yaro Nuchna”. Other  international projects have included, Jamaica’s Morgan Heritage, UK’s Nitin Sawhney, India’s Mahender Kapoor and a young Pakistan/California artist later known as Bohemia the Punjabi Rapper to name a few.

The lead singer of “SF Spanish Fly”, “Milo” and Rajeev used to experiment with music, songs and production ideas long  before it became their full time jobs. One day Milo stopped by to see Rajeev and they decided to work on something for old times sakes. Calling themselves “Energy”, they released “Take Me Higher”, on Upstairs Records which quickly became a big club and radio hit reaching the Billboard Top 100 charts that year. The project also went on to receive a nomination for the “Bay Area Music Awards”, aka the “BAMMIES”.

Frustrated with not fully understanding the business side of music, Raj felt it was time to learn it first hand so he just dove in head first and started his record label, “Illusive Records”. He signed a 16 year old talent named, “Rosalinda” and produced her first single “Give Me All Your Love”, with his production partner Isidro “DJ Chill” Contreras. As soon as it was released the song became an instant hit in the streets and into the clubs. Within 2 weeks it was on the radio nationwide without any marketing or promotions. They were off to the races without a clue of what lay ahead.

The world outside the studio was exciting and exhausting all at the same time. Rajeev was suddenly the shipping department, booking manager, road manger, etc. all while producing Rosalinda’s upcoming album which fans nationwide were asking for. The album was released with lots of fanfare. Even the local bay area radio station threw her album release party. Things were really taking off but in an instant came to a screeching halt. Rajeev was struck with news no one expected. Rosalinda decided she didn’t want to be an artist any more and stopped showing up for promos, shows, interviews, etc.

Rajeev remembers how soul crushing it was. He had always believed to get the best outcome, embrace and work with the feelings that makes everyone involved tick. Everyone told him to take her to court but Raj’s attitude was, there’s no sense in forcing her to live a lie. He did not want anyone in his circle to be fake. Financial hit aside, what hurt most was the genuine love that had gone into her album and just like that it was over. Raj said he felt his gut instinct had been right all along, saying that love and passion for something is as important as the talent.

In disbelief that an artist just walked away, Raj’s regular studio clients came together and asked him if he would get behind them as a hip hop group on his label called, “The Illusive Camp”.  He accepted the idea and went on to produce their album, “Street Music”, which they would go on to perform around the state including the California State Fair. The project led to him to producing an EP called, “Fresh Boogie” for “Les Fresh” and “Boogie The Mann” from within the camp.

By this time Raj had moved his home and studio to Stockton, CA. where he would work with international musicians and artists such as Mike Overtone, TJ Kool, Jagdev, Devika, and a young Jasmine Sandlas among others.
In hindsight Raj remembers, every time there was a female artist in a session, his really young daughter Anjali would grab her coloring books and sit in the back of the studio quietly coloring. When the artist left, she would just disappear.

Raj still didn’t realize something was brewing right under his nose and he was clueless to it. Not even on the day when at just 9yrs old Anjali came home from school and they had this conversation:

“Hey dad, can we get in the studio?”.  Puzzled at the question Raj replied “What?”

“Oh sorry Dad, it’s for a school project, I need to record a song”.  

“Yea, I don’t think all the classroom’s parents are looking for studios for their kids right now”, Raj replied.

“Oh no, it’s about what we’re going to do when we grow up.” she replied.  

“Okay sounds good, what are you going to be?” asked Raj.  

“I’m going to be a singer!” Anjali said happily.

“NO! No, you are not!” came the reply as Raj was still feeling some kind of way from past experiences.

To his shock and surprise, Anjali stood her ground and argued back to him for the first time ever, “Why not?! I wrote a song!”

Raj was annoyed and at this point just wanted to get back to work and quickly end the conversation.  So he replied with a lengthy reason of why it was not a good idea telling her “there’s a lot more that goes into recording a song than just writing poetry like you just did at school. Plus, we’ll need to create the structure and the melody which I don’t think you know what that is.”

Anjali pensively looked down and agreed “Yeah, I don’t.” Then, just as quickly she perked up and looked up directly at her dad and stated “Wait, is that how it goes? I can sing it for you!”

Raj smirked and replied, “Yeah, sure.  Go for it”  thinking it’s his perfect way out. He would listen, she can go back to play and he can get back to work.

As soon as she started singing, Raj was upset that she had lied to him and asked “Where did you get that from?”   

“I wrote it.” said Anjali.  
“No, I mean where did you copy it from?” Raj said frowning. 
Seeing her Dad wasn’t happy, Anjali ran to her room and came back with a piece of paper with what appeared as chicken scratch on it. He saw word for word everything she had just sung and it was almost fully structured. Raj was confused and the only words he could think of was asking her again, “Where did you copy this from? And don’t lie to me!” 
“I wrote it Dad.” Anjali replied sadly, “Why would I lie?”

Still skeptical, Raj took her into the studio with him and put together a quick composition and sent her into the vocal booth thinking this will take forever.

To his surprise, Anjali was a natural and had a feel for the studio as if she had been doing this for decades and finished recording the song within minutes.

Blown away is an understatement because Raj was even more confused now. That was until his producer instinct kicked in. As soon as they finished, he sat her down and told her what he told every artist. “If this is what you want to do, it will have to be your own personal journey.”

Explaining that just because Dad is a producer with a studio meant nothing for her in the real world. This would have to be a very personal journey which she would have to take on all by herself and that it definitely would not be an easy one. Having a beautiful voice and talent as a singer would not be enough.

He said the reason he would support her journey on this path was because at just 9 years old and without any help she had already proven to him that she was an amazing songwriter, and with that she would never have to depend on anyone else to write for her.

He explained moving forward she would have to stay focused on everything music. To be in pop music, learn the history of popular music and understand where it came from if she wanted to be a part of its future. He promised to be there as a guide and help with anything as long as she was working at it herself. She nodded and said, “Okay, I get it.” and ran off to play as if nothing had just happened.

From that point on Anjali would find time to get into the studio in between her Dad’s sessions and pick up anything she could.  She would listen intently, have discussions and conversations regarding music and artists from different periods of the past 100 years and the ins and outs of the studio, recording and business. 

In the process of tutoring her, Raj produced Anjali’s first single which was a song she had written at 13 years old called, “The Bay”.  It was an homage to San Francisco music greats, like Tony Bennet, Scott McKenzie and Journey intertwined with her own experiences of the city as a child.

His next production for Anjali came with a Reggae vibe song titled, “Reality”. The top Bay Area Reggae DJ, “Daddy Rolo 13” found the song online within a week of its release and played it on his show on the Bay Area’s top urban radio station KMEL. He also happened to know Raj and was surprised to find out that Anjali was his daughter. Raj would later find out she had written that song when she was only 10 years old about her family losing their home during the housing crisis. Over the years, after recording more projects with Raj in different genres, Anjali grew up to become a skilled singer and songwriter and they set off to record her debut album right after graduating high school.

In 2018, with the album complete and just a week before her debut album was to be released, Anjali was in a horrific car crash involving a drunk driver. Her face had been smashed in and was unrecognizable to her parents as they walked in frantically looking for her in the emergency room.  The ER doctor told Rajeev and his wife that Anjali’s face was separated from her skull and shattered in several parts.  They were also told that it would take multiple surgeries and at the very least 2 years of recovery with the likelihood of her never being able to sing again due to the severe fractures she had sustained.

Anjali wasn’t having it. She fought fiercely through the pain, several surgeries, medication, and addiction, she forced herself and dad back to the studio and wrote an entirely new upbeat album titled, “Chingona” releasing it just 9 months after the accident. Chingona translates into “Bad Ass Woman” in Spanish which was a nickname her mom would lovingly call her due to her tenacity and determination she always had as a kid.

Raj was really happy she was following her passion as she began working with top notch producers who invited her into their circles like Good Job 1st, who discovered Post Malone and produced his first hit debut album, among others like Travis Scott, Ariana Grande. When Anjali returned from her time in Los Angeles, she said, “Dad, you know you’re not done right? I like working with all these guys but I love your production and I want to perform songs we work on together for my upcoming shows.”

A dream of Raj’s always was to work with an artist like what his daughter had become. Today, they are in the studio regularly working on fun and exciting new projects they are sharing with the world.

Together they have established Matchstick Entertainment LLC encompassing all of Rajeev’s previous entities from Majikus Music Publishing, Illusive Records, Makijus Productions, Majikus Studio 9 and artist Anjali Asha.

Most recently their song, “Haunting” was licensed by the cosmetic company, “Wet n Wild Beauty” for their 2022 Halloween campaign receiving 32M views on “TikTok” blowing out their previous year’s high of 7M.

Raj and Anjali are now the father and daughter team to watch as they  are just getting started with an exciting future of amazing and still unheard catalog of music ahead.   

Raj is still pinching himself!